Skip to main content

Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

See other formats


big decision to take from Germany the whole of East Prussia or the land up to
the Oder. It is like taking Wales from England. That is the decision which
must be taken by more powerful States. I do not believe that you save
your honour in this matter by imposing on others the obligation of making
a decision which you ought to make yourself.
Major Lord Willoughby de Evesby (Conservative) : ... I cannot
claim to speak with any very great knowledge or authority on foreign
aifairs. I have., however, during the past five years, been associated with men
who fought, suffered and, alas, died for their country, and whose views,
for that reason alone, although no better informed than my own, are entitled
to a hearing here to-day.
When I saw the Report of the Yalta Conference I did have a feeling of
having been let down. I can only speak for myself personally, of course,
but I cannot help feeling that many who were with me in the Army might
have the same feeling. Perhaps I may attempt to give my reasons. On
instructions from the War Office it was our habit, as many hon. Members
know, to hold once a week what became known as A.B.C.A. discussions.
One of the most popular, and indeed, the most frequent of those discussions
was the question of what we are fighting for.
We very soon realised that when you told the men they were fighting
for freedom and democracy, it meant something rather different to each one
of them. . . . But there was one thing about which we were all quite clear
and all agreed, which was that we were fighting for Poland. When I say
" Poland ", I do not mean^ and we did not mean, Poland as decreed by
Soviet Russia or underwritten to-day by the British Government or Poland
as imagined by the late Lord Curzon, but a Poland with similar frontiers
to those we guaranteed, and over which we went to war at such very great
cost in life and suffering—frontiers extended possibly at the expense of a
defeated Germany. I cannot help regretting that I shall be asked soon to
approve of an agreement whereby the boundaries of Poland are to be
radically altered from those which we pledged ourselves to preserve, an
agreement embodying a settlement which we know is distasteful to those
many heroic and gallant fellows who have fought for us on land, on sea
and in the air during the past five years.
I must admit that I was very much relieved to hear the Prime Minister
say that he was ready to see whether it was possible to have those Poles who
fought for us, admitted into the British Empire. I would ask whoever is
to reply to the Debate to give us a more definite assurance. We should
make a gesture at this moment, and without any question of duty, offer
safe asylum, either within our shores or within the British Empire, to those
Poles who do not wish to go back to a dismembered and, to my mind,
Sovietised Poland. I am reminded of a remark made by a Canadian soldier
in France. During an engagement, one of the first tanks to go forward
was hit by an 88mm. gun, and then the next was hit. Eventually the officer
carne along and asked this fellow what he was doing and why he was hanging
back. The Canadian replied : " There doesn't seem to be much future
in it to me." I cannot help feeling that if many of these Poles who declared
themselves, quite openly, in my presence, and that of many other people,
as being more anti-Russian than anti-German^ might have a better future
within the British Empire than within this new Free State that we are now
setting up.
I frankly admit that I am violently prejudiced on this question. I happen
to have lived and trained during the past five years with the Polish Army.
I have had Polish officers attached to my regiment, and I have often fought
alongside the Polish Armoured Division. I can assure the House that a
506